Confession time: my first smartphone was a Windows Phone. After years clinging on to a button phone (the just-about-internet-capable and BlackBerry-inspired Samsung Chat) and being mocked by my peers, I decided to make the switch and join the touchscreen revolution about a year ago.
I went for a bright green Nokia Lumia 635. Never one to follow the herd, I went for a Windows Phone for a few reasons: it was cheap (and smartphones are all the same), I liked the look of the UI, and I foolishly believed Windows 10 might be a success on mobile. In hindsight I was wrong.
Having been sent a Moto G4 for review, I am now firmly an Android user. But there will be a few things I miss about my little Lumia.
The Windows UI
Probably the best thing about Windows Phones, and perhaps the one thing they still have over other mobile OS makers, the tiled UI was great. Everything was clean, unfussy, and perfect for mobile. It might not have worked on desktop, but in one hand those little squares just felt right. Android is ok, but it’s easily the thing I miss most. Tight integration with other Microsoft services such as Office were a boon, as was Nokia’s HERE maps until they were sold off.
The Lumia’s plastic shell meant I didn’t have to wrap it up in cotton wool and bubble wrap in case at any given moment the wind changed and the screen cracked. Although lacking in oompf, it was a hardy little device that survived more than a few bumps and scrapes unharmed. It had a decent battery too (but the lack of apps that I could waste hours on may have been a factor).
Like BlackBerry users, the WP fans are a rare breed, and becoming ever more scarce. Finding a fellow fans of the tiles was a special event, marked by bringing out your own hallowed device and boasting about how it was good enough, did everything you need, and you weren’t bothered about whatever trendy app had ignored your platform.
Of course, there’s plenty of stuff I wont miss:
The Windows Phone Store
The chief failing of all Windows Phones. Yes it had the essentials in Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and… er… Shazam? Evernote? Uber? But the amount of apps that looked fun or useful but beyond me became infuriating. When Microsoft itself is releasing new apps to Android and iOS but not Windows, you know it’s time to jump ship. Pokémon Go, however, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Perhaps getting the cheapest Lumia was a failing on my behalf, but the 635 was terrible. Apps and the whole phone itself crashed with alarming regularity, and the whole device was generally sluggish. Going back to the Lumia after a month with a phone with decent processing power only emphasises the difference.
The tiny screen is also something I never thought about until I tried using it again. The Moto’s screen is bigger than the entire Lumia, which feels almost smartwatch-esque in comparison.
Having spent far too long having people go “oh is that a BlackBerry? How quaint. What it’s not a BlackBerry, then what is it?” when carrying around the Samsung. I was used to people chuckling at my choice of phone. But people didn’t find Windows Phones funny, they just found it weird I would want one. I was tired of the judging.
So what of the Moto G4 that has replaced it? It’s perfectly good: The screen is pretty big, it’s pleasantly speedy, the Google Play store isn’t some deserted wasteland. I can get Google AND Microsoft services on this phone. The thumbprint scanner is nice if occasionally spotty, it gets very hot quickly if you’re using it a lot, and the wrist-twist gesture to get straight to the camera is pointless (but every phone has to have some silly quirk, right?).
The Moto is a decent phone, and I enjoy using it without thinking much about it. People don’t ask me why my phone is bright green or why the UI is all weird, but that’s ok. We were good together, you and I, but my time with Windows Phones is over. All hail Android.